Building capacity for research by the community, for the community
TIDE congratulates five new trainees who successfully completed our 2014 Community Researcher training program this April. The course comprised two weeks of rigorous training to become Level 1 Community Researchers for TIDE’s research and monitoring department. This year’s successful candidates were Mr Rasheed Arzu, Ms Anna Mutrie, Ms Shanel Archer, Mr Melvin Choc, and Mr Bevinton Cal, all young members of local communities associated with the protected areas managed by TIDE. Mr Marty Alvarez, who recently became TIDE’s new research assistant and who has a mainly terrestrial background, also participated in the course to build his capacity for marine work.
Training included the PADI Open Water Diver course (entry level), taught by TIDE science director and PADI SCUBA instructor James Foley with voluntary assistance from Miwa Takahasi, also a PADI SCUBA instructor. TIDE wishes to thank Belcampo Lodge, who were kind enough to donate the use of their pool for two days of confined water training. After this the team spent two days at sea with an overnight at Abalone Caye Ranger Station to complete four open water dives at the Snake Cayes in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR).
This was followed by a week of fieldwork methods training by Foley, TIDE’s marine biologist Tanya Barona and terrestrial biologist Elmar Requena, during which TIDE rangers Andrew Williams and Delbert Pop, and TIDE Tours guide Martin Ack (who all completed dive training in 2013), also participated. Topics included monitoring of water quality, conch, lobster, sea cucumber, coral reefs, reef fish, sea grass, turtles, lionfish, hicatee, amphibians, birds, and much more! Participants also learned scientific background in environmental science, coral reef ecology, land-sea interconnectivity and the impact of human activities on the natural environment, empowering the new recruits to become ambassadors to their communities for conservation and sustainable management.
Building this rapport with communities creates a deeper understanding of the importance of conservation and fosters greater stewardship of natural resources. Local fishers for example, are starting to buy in to the idea that resource management is something that can be done by the community, for the community. They now say they have more confidence in the use of scientific research as a basis for Marine Protected Areas management. One recently commented that he believes in TIDE’s research results more now because his own daughter is involved in the data collection – she has seen the positive effects of a well-managed Replenishment Zones in PHMR with her own eyes!